Chichester District Council questions ‘competence’ after project costs rise by £2m

Plot 12 in Terminus Road, Chichester, site of a proposed enterprise gateway
Plot 12 in Terminus Road, Chichester, site of a proposed enterprise gateway
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QUESTIONS over ‘competence’ were raised after costs of a proposed enterprise gateway in Chichester rose by £2m.

The much-vaunted business project in Terminus Road could create more than 200 new jobs and 90 new offices, studios and workshops to boost the area’s economy.

However, the estimated cost of the project has risen to £6,245,860 – an increase of £2,224,860 on the £4,021,000 published in May, 2014.

Cabinet queried at Tuesday’s meeting how the estimate could have shot up so quickly in such a short time.

“It’s a big shock to us to see a £2m increase from May, 2014, to July, 2015,” said Conservative council leader Tony Dignum.

He said looking through the initial estimate from business consulting firm CBRE appeared to show ‘less than 100-per-cent competence’ as it underestimated many of the costs.

“I would think CBRE would have done a better job,” said Cllr Dignum, adding: “Some of these things were way out of kilter.”

The cabinet was asked on Tuesday to recommend to full council that it allocated the additional reserves to the project, as well as also releasing £88,500 to appoint an architect and design team to proceed to the planning stage and to tender for construction of the centre.

It is due to be built at Plot 12, in Terminus Road.

Hopes are high that when completed, the enterprise gateway would encourage a growth in innovation, leading to more new businesses in the area.

“This will not only create employment but also increase the survival rate of those businesses and the salaries associated with those jobs,” said a report put before cabinet.

“Gateways provide additional support and the flexible accommodation assists the business in controlling its expenditure as it grows or reduces.”

Cllr Dignum emphasised the need to put forward only £88,500 now until the council had a ‘much clearer steer’ on what the actual costs of the site were going to be.

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